CDC releases first guidelines on concussions in children

For the first time ever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines on treating children with concussions and other mild traumatic brain injuries.

The timing is fitting, with contact sports such as soccer and football now in full swing.

“This is the time of year when concussion numbers hit a peak,” said Tad S Seifert, M.D., neurologist and director of Norton Healthcare’s Sports Neurology Program.

The CDC estimates nearly 4 million sports-related concussions occur every year in the United States, many of which involve kids and young teens. Children are more prone to concussions and typically display more severe and prolonged symptoms than adults and young college students.

“With children, the neck muscles aren’t as strong or developed as an adult’s,” Dr. Seifert said. “This increases the chance of sustaining a whiplash effect during a collision or sudden impact. That lack of strength often plays a significant role in suffering a concussion.”

Concussions can lead to long-term health effects, such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, irritability, depression, dementia and other issues.

In recent years, sports-related concussions have been a hot topic, but there’s been no uniform approach for diagnosing and treating them. Physicians across the country have been using different methods.

“The problem has been that the science behind concussions is evolving so quickly that it is challenging to keep up with all of the medical literature coming out on the topic,” Dr. Seifert said.

The CDC guidelines help set the record straight, standardizing the care physicians across the country provide. “It’s very much a good thing that will ensure the way concussion medicine is practiced in Augusta, Maine, is the same in Phoenix, Arizona, so that all patients are receiving the same standard of care,” said Dr. Seifert said.

The CDC guidelines include several recommendations on 19 mild traumatic brain injury topics, ranging from sleep management to best diagnostic tools.

To read all of the guidelines, see this article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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The Norton Sports Health team includes orthopedists, neurologists, psychiatrists, primary care physicians, certified athletic trainers and physical therapists who work together to provide advanced care for athletes and individuals of all ages. To refer a patient, click here for the online referral form or call (502) 629-1234, option 3.

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Joshua K. Wu, D.O.

Joshua K. Wu, D.O., nonsurgical orthopedic sports medicine physician with Norton Orthopedic Institute, also serves Norton Sports Health.

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